Punching keystrokes quickly, her fingers flew effortlessly over the keyboard with precision and accuracy. Punctuating the last keystroke with a solid triumphant jab, Vanessa Tribalt watched the screen anxiously biting her lip. Her bright eyes danced with anticipation and her leg jiggled impatiently along to the music in her headphones.
Movement caught her eye and she quickly looked up. Her infectious smile beamed and she waved them in. “Hey, great timing!” Venessa called out over the music then blushed as the realization hit her. She pulled the headphones off her ears and was instantly assaulted by the quiet soft hum of her lab equipment. “Sorry,” Vanessa shrugged a shoulder grinning sheepishly at them.
Elissa grinned and walked around the desk to see what she was working on, “What did you bid on?”
“Nothing!” Vanessa tapped a few keys before pointedly turning around and steering them to the counter and a different computer terminal. “Okay so it is just like you figured, the paint scrapings on the rail match the victim’s car, the skid marks are the right width of the tires and the bleed valve was intentionally removed to make it look like brake failure.”
Vanessa pressed a few buttons to show pictures of the surrounding area of the missing bleed valve. She was pointing out the stress marks and explaining to Hector the difference in how a screw properly loosened would appear without the scraping that Peter Hamilton’s had when laughter erupted behind them. Vanessa whipped around and exclaimed, “Elissa!”
Elissa was sitting at Vanessa’s desk perusing her e-bay bids. “Hello kitty zombies, Nessa?”
Vanessa winced and laughed at being caught, “It’s not what you think… okay it is, but they call it Hello Zombie. Isn’t it just the cutest?”
Hector rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to the case while the two girls looked over the items Vanessa had bid on and what she had already won. Hector asked the room, “Could this be simple negligence by the mechanic?”
“You’re kidding right? No way was that done by a mechanic, unless the mechanic is sloppy and does house calls.” Vanessa gave him a look of mock surprise, “If Hamilton wasn’t going down hill he wouldn’t even have gotten as far as he did. Whoever removed the bleed valve made sure air was getting to the master cylinder and fast. Not as fast as cutting the brake lines, but fast in a way that makes it still appear like an accident.”
“Oh, you won the tennis shoes!” Elissa was still mesmerized by the computer screen.
“Who benefits by Peter Hamilton’s death?” Hector waited at the intersection for the light to change.
“Everyone… take your pick.” Elissa was looking at the list of suspects they had started, “Obvious choice, Zania Hamilton. She allegedly stands to inherit the company and the home…”
“That is assuming he doesn’t have a will already filed; then she inherits everything. Who else is on the list?” Hector peered at the road with intense concentration.
“You know he does. His last visit to Odette London was to make his will.” Elissa frowned at the list of names before shooting Hector a disapproving glance, “You have the wife, son, daughter, Cecil ‘the butler’, the hypothetical lover, Travis ‘the pool boy’ Knight, an unnamed mechanic, Jenson…” Her lip curled into a sneer as she mentioned his name. She plucked her pen from her pocket. “Adding Odette London because she was rude, Kingston Riley at least until we can talk to him and Evangeline…” Elissa’s stomach turned the moment the last woman's name passed her lips. She closed her eyes and sighed. “Hector…”
“We’re good, Elissa, just let it go.” Elissa noted his grip on the steering wheel had tightened. She turned to look out of the window watching the houses go by. Hector asked, “Odette London, the lawyer… what could she possibly get out of this?”
“One less lecherous client?” Elissa shrugged a shoulder before continuing, “Maybe she was jealous because she wasn’t one of his lovers… or maybe she was and she found out about the other and…” She glanced quickly with wide eyes at Hector when the car came to an abrupt stop.
“What about that Travis, pool boy.” Hector glared straight ahead of him as they sat at the stop sign.
“What?” Elissa asked noting his reluctant to continue. “What did he say?”
“Nothing, it isn’t what he said. The man has no morals. He dropped his trunks right in front of me…” He glanced at Elissa. “No, don’t ask.”
“Aw come on, you have tell me.” Elissa laughed, “You can’t say something like that without at least telling me if he’s a true red head.”
“I didn’t look.” Hector cursed himself as he blushed. “Yes, he’s a natural red-head, but don’t ask me more than that, okay?”
“Damn, I should have let you interview Cecil.” Elissa laughed again, shaking her head. “Speaking of the butler…”
“Cecil Jonahs, his last name is Jonahs and he doesn’t exist.” Elisa frowned at his words. Hector shot her a side glance. “That is what I just got back any way. I have them double checking before we send up red flags.”
“He was telling the truth about the cook. She retired five years ago and passed two years ago. Now get this, the woman owed no money on credit cards or loans, and left a sizable life insurance to Peter Hamilton.” Elissa grinned at the look Hector gave her. “Yup, she had no family so she put him as her beneficiary. He got fifty grand.”
“Must be nice.” Hector frowned. “The coroner said something about Hamilton that I never…”
“What?” Elissa was searching his notes again and paused, “Oh. So, who do you think it was? Cecil or Travis?”
“From the hostility coming from Cecil, I’d say both.” Hector shrugged a shoulder and pulled the car over to the curb. “Peter Hamilton was gay. Damn…”
“I don’t buy that, Hector.” Elissa tapped the notepad. “He may have had a male lover, but he had plenty of women, too.”
“That’s true…” Hector pondered his next sentence, “I wonder if Eva knows.” Elissa stared at him biting her lip wondering how to approach things when he interrupted her thoughts. “There’s Kingston Riley.” Hector slipped the car into park.